Insertion sequence IS6120 from Mycobacterium smegmatis was identified by its ability to transpose into different sites in the lambda repressor gene, cl857, carried on an Escherichia coli/mycobacteria shuttle plasmid. IS6120 is a novel 1.5 kb insertion sequence, which has 24-bp imperfect terminal inverted repeats and generates 9-bp duplications of the target DNA following insertion. IS6120 is present in at least three copies in M. smegmatis but was not found in other species, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed that IS6120 contains two open reading frames, one of which encodes a putative transposase with similarities to those found in IS256 from Staphylococcus aureus, IST2 from Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, and ISRm3 from Rhizobium meliloti. The fact that IS6120 does not recognize a consensus target sequence for insertion and has no homologous sequences in the other strains studied makes IS6120 useful for transposon mutagenesis in mycobacteria.